|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Thu, 17 Jan 2002
Tracy Bridges didn’t have much time to think when he saw Peter Odighizuwa on the front lawn of the Appalachian School of Law moments after he allegedly went on a killing spree.
“I just reacted,” said Bridges, a student and sheriff’s deputy who tackled Odighizuwa with classmates Todd Ross of Johnson City, Tenn., and Ted Besen after the Wednesday shootings.
The three men pinned Odighizuwa to the ground, and Bridges handcuffed the man’s arms behind his back.
Odighizuwa, 42, a former student who was dismissed on Tuesday for bad grades, is accused of shooting and killing Dean L. Anthony Sutin, Professor Thomas Blackwell and student Angela Dales.
As screaming students started climbing out of windows, Bridges and Besen said their police and military training took over.
“I’m a former Marine, former police officer,” said Besen, 37. “Who better to do that? I’m trained to do that. I’m not going to let him shoot anyone else if I could.”
Odighizuwa, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Grundy General District Court on capital murder charges.
Chris Clifton, the school’s financial officer, said he met with Odighizuwa on Tuesday afternoon along with other school officials to notify him that he was being permanently dismissed for poor grades. Odighizuwa had flunked out and then was readmitted a year before.
On Wednesday, Odighizuwa stopped in the office of professor Dale Rubin to talk about his grades and as he left reportedly asked Rubin to pray for him, police said. He then walked to Sutin’s and Blackwell’s offices and shot them with a .380-caliber pistol, State Police spokesman Mike Stater said. Blackwell had taught contract law to Odighizuwa.
“There were three quick shots, then we heard, I think, three more,” said Bridges, 25.
Bridges and Besen, a former police officer from Wilmington, N.C., crept down a back stairwell to the parking lot, and Bridges got his gun out of the car.
Odighizuwa had walked outside and stood with a confused look on his face, Bridges said.
“I planned on blindsiding him from behind,” Besen said. “He sat the weapon down and raised his hands up in the air. I didn’t know if he was praying.”
Besen said he ran toward Odighizuwa and told him to get on the ground.
“He kind of came at me. He swung and hit me in the jaw,” Besen said.
Once pinned down, he kept shouting, “I have nowhere to go. I have nowhere to go.”’